Good for the Chevy Volt, ah, not so good for GM’s halo Corvette
When the Chevy Volt concept car came out at the North American International Auto Show in 2007 it was a genuine attention grabber. Even a died-in-wool Corvette fan like me said, “Hey, pretty cool!” Between the big diameter wheels, the chopped and channeled look, and the promise of 50-plus mpg, it looked like Detroit was serious about taking the lead away from the Toyota Prius.
But when the production Volt came out, enthusiasts said, “Ahh… Excuse us, but what happened?” Of course, fans of the Prius “larva school of styling” cheered, but were not electrified buy the Volt. And why would they? At over $40,000, the car cost $12,00 to $10,000 more than the Prius. It looks like a Malibu variant. The Malibu is a nice car, but it’s just a “nice” car. Even the Motor Trend Car of the year didn’t help the Volt. But by October 2011, the Volt was getting many buyers charged up with sales, as only 3,895 Volts had been shipped. GM had projected 10,000 Volts for ‘11.
So the big “WHOO-WHOO” news for Volt lovers (and GM) is that by the end of May ‘12, Chevy had sold 7,057 cars. I’m certain that the major reason for the bump in Volt sales was the price reduction to just under $32,000. But for some reason, the media has chosen to compare the Volt’s sales with the Corvette’s sales – and it doesn’t look good for the Corvette. What’a dopy comparison! First of all, greeny Volt fans most likely wouldn’t be caught dead in a Corvette, and visa-versa. While Corvette sales are up somewhat from ‘11, they’re still WAY off the ‘07’s total of 40,561 Corvettes. Sorry guys, but it’s apples and oranges here. Continue reading
When it comes to widebody Corvettes, it’s all about BIG tires.
Check out the wide body Corvette prints at the bottom of this post.
On March 16,2012 GMAuthority.com announced that for the 2012 racing season, the C6.R ZR1 Corvette would be wearing a new suit. We’re not talking about the livery, it’s still Competition Yellow with black graphics that seems to change every few races.
No, we’re talking about actual body parts. It was only six years ago that the production widebody C6 Z06 gave the new C6 that big, broad shoulders look that we love so much. It wasn’t long before lots of regular Corvettes were wearing Z06 outfits, and why not? It looks great, almost as if that’s the way the C6 should have looked in ‘05. But things evolve and we go from there. It wasn’t just a fad either. Chevrolet certainly noticed and and in ‘10 dished up the Grand Sport model, wearing Z06 cloths and a new set of front fender vents. The new look struck a chord, because in ‘10 the Grand Sport Corvette made up 49.5% of total sales and in ‘11 Grand Sports accounted for 58.7% of sales! That’s very impressive and the Corvette planners deserve credit for picking up on the widebody trend.
But when ‘12 Corvette Racing season began, the ZR1-based race cars were wearing an even wider, wider body. And just like the original ‘70s widebody Corvettes popularized by John and Burt Greenwood, it was all about tires. Race car tires are a whole other interesting topic. If you go all the way back to the earliest Corvette racers, you can’t miss those painfully skinny tires. These were stock tires that were sometimes shaved a little. When you got into the late ‘60s tire sizes began to grow and L-60 series tires were considered enormous. Continue reading
Ryan Briscoe take a blast in the 2012 60th Anniversary ZR1 Indy 500 Pace Car – calls it, “One hell of a race car!”
This weekend is the 96th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports, the Indy 500. Over the years, some of the cars that pace the race have become stars themselves. And none more that the Corvette Indy Pace Cars. After all, the Indy 500 is America’s race and the Corvette is America’s high performance sports car, so the relationship is a natural. This will be the 11th time (‘78, ‘86. ‘95, ‘98, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, and ‘08) a Corvette has served as the official Indy 500 pace car.
The last time a Corvette served as an Indy 500 pace car was in 2008 when not one, but two unique Indy Pace Car Corvettes were on hand. A black and silver version was available as an option for Corvette buyers, with 234 Coupes and 266 convertibles sold that year. But the actual pace car was an experimental, Gold Rush Green Z06 running on E-85 fuel. This unique paint was a brilliant candy gold that changed into candy lime green depending on the light and angle of view. I thought for sure this might be a prototype paint for a possible Continue reading
A colorful new addition to Scott Teeters’ collection of Corvette art prints!
Work continues on our new prints enterprise. In April 2012 we partnered with Fine Art America so that our Corvette art print customers could enjoy the many options afforded by FAA. Our latest offering, “Corvette Box of Candies” came as a happy result of working on our horizontal and vertical layouts of the Corvette Special Editions and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars layouts.
After I completed the graphics for the Special Editions and Pace Cars, it occurred to me that if I put them all on one layout, they’d look like a box of brightly colored, pretty, hard candies. You know those bright-colored, sweet, hard candies you often see in the display cases at Hallmark Card shops. Corvettes in the layout include all of the Special Edition Corvettes from the 1978 25 Anniversary Corvette to the 2011 Carbon Edition Z06, and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars from 1978 to 2008. So I ran the idea by the boss and she said, “Make it so, Dude!” So, the Dude, got’r done! Continue reading
Corvette paces the 2012 Indy 500 for the 11th time!
Every so often, a real bombshell goes off. Earlier this week, less than three weeks before the 2012 Indy 500 race, Chevrolet announced that a 2013 60th Anniversary ZR1 Corvette would pace the 96th Indy 500 race. This will the the 11th time a Corvette paces the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports and the 23rd time a Chevrolet automobile has paced the Indy 500. No other manufacturer has paced Indy more times. And, if that’s not enough, 2012 marks the return of Chevrolet as an engine supplier for IZOD IndyCar Series.
C6 Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, but this is the first time the 638-horsepower ZR1 will do the job. The ZR1 is also the most powerful car to ever pace the Indy 500. And just like most of the previous Corvette Indy pace cars, the Corvete needed no performance enhancements – just the addition of various safety requirements.
Arguably, the only bummer part of the story is for Corvette collectors. There was no announcement of an optional Pace Car Special. The livery on the ZR1 Pace Car consists of the production 60th Anniversary decoration, with the addition of the 2012 Indy 500 logo, “Official Pace Car”, Indy 500 logo, “CORVETTE” across the top of the windshield, and the safety strobe light bar on top of the B-pillar. The ZR1’s astonishing hardware aside, this is the tamest-looking Corvette Indy 500 pace car we’ve seen since 1986. But, we’re NOT complaining. Continue reading
Our New Partnership With FineArtAmerica.com
We are very happy to announce our new Corvette art prints enterprise with FineArtAmerica.com. But first, I must give credit, where credit is due. My lovely wife and business partner Karen, discovered FineArtAmerica.com about a month ago. Partnering with FineArtAmerica.com allows me the freedom to create Corvette art print layouts in any proportion. FineArtAmerica.com allows customers to order my Corvette prints in sizes to fit their budget needs! The optional matte and framing service allows customers the freedom to choosing their color matte and frame style to suit their decor needs.
By offering our Corvette prints through FineArtAmerica.com, customers can order prints as small as 8” x 2-5/8” up to 48” x 16” for our 1×3 proportion layouts and 8” x 8” up to 48” x 48” for our square proportion layouts. Every print can be produced on either archival matte paper, photo paper, watercolor paper, or canvas. Then, if you want, you can have your print custom matted and framed. There are dozens of matte colors and frame styles. You can design your framed print to match your home decor. The possibilities are staggering!
“Corvettes and Racing” A Wonderful Marriage!
“Corvettes and racing” have been perfect together since 1956. Without the influence of racing, I’m sure that the Corvette would have morphed into something else and been gone long ago. The other day CorvetteBlogger.com posted a story about a 2011 C6.R Le Mans Winning tribute Corvette that’s For Sale. The car looks as if it was just rolled out of the transport and is ready for a few hot laps, but this is a street machine sporting a brand new LS7 crate engine and a host of delicious racing goodies. The car has 52,000 miles on the odometer and the asking price is just $55,000. Almost begs the question, “So what’s wrong with the car???”
Seeing the car got me to thinking about earlier Corvette street machines with a powerful visual racing reference. Arguably the most over-the-top race track-influenced Corvettes were the ‘70s wide-body IMSA Corvettes. The wide body design was the last of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s “racer kit” Corvette parts program and first showed up on John Greenwood’s Corvettes around 1974-1975.
Previous Corvette racer body parts were limited to the functional L88 hood and fender flares. The fender flares were pretty big, but as tires got wider and wider, something else had to be done. Corvette stylists came up with a wild-looking and functionally aerodynamic full body kit that not only cover up the Can-Am-size racing tires, but improved the car’s aerodynamics. In full battle regalia, Greenwood’s IMSA Corvette looked like “the future” and was quickly nick named, “The Batmobile.” Continue reading
The Forgotten Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars
Even if you’re not “into” Indy Car racing, the Indy 500 is a uniquely American special event. Whom ever coined the expression, “The Greatest Spectacle in Motor Sports” got it spot on. In its own unique way, it is the American equivalent of Le Mans. The expression in road racing is this, “You can win at Daytona and America knows about it. But when you win at Le Mans, the whole world knows!” Even though the event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just one race in a series of races and is early on in the season, it might as well be the Super Bowl of American auto racing. When the flag comes down and the winner is declared, every city newspaper,as well as every national and local TV station reports the winner. But if you win say, the Baltimore or Los Angeles Grand Prix, very few outside the arena of motorsports will know. No, there’s only ONE Indy 500.
While pace cars have been used at the Indy 500 since 1911, the tradition of giving the pace car to the winner of the Indy 500 goes back to 1936. Tommy Milton (winner of the 1921 and 1923 races) was invited to drive the official pace car, a Packard 120, and suggested giving the pace car to the race winner. A new tradition was born. As the speeds of the Indy race cars increased, so did the demands of the pace cars. Eventually, the pace cars were specially modified versions of the street machines with enhanced engines, suspensions, and brakes. By the ‘60s, manufacturers began to sometimes offer pace car replicas to their customers. Tracking actual pace cars is a little tricky because manufacturers usually build several pace cars for the actual race and for promotional use that all pretty much look the same.
Yes, Indy 500 pace cars have become a specialty nitch all by themselves. That’s why in 1978 when it was announced by Chevrolet Continue reading
The Master of Cut-Away Technical Illustration Automotive Art
Please allow me to indulge myself and geeze a little. It seems that the farther north you are from the age of 50, the more times from the past begin to blur together. If you’re under 30 or 40 and are wondering what I’m talking about, just wait. I think it was somewhere around 1984 or 1985 the first time I saw one of David Kimble’s cut-away technical illustrations.
While Kimble had been working for many years as a technical illustrator for the US Navy, an RV company, the Chaparral Racing Team, the Harrison Racing team, and Sports Car Graphic Magazine, I believe that it was his 1984 technical illustration of the then-new 1984 C4 Corvette that put him on the automotive map. If it wasn’t his ‘84 Corvette cut-away that I first saw, then it was his Ferrari F40 cut-away that appeared in Motor Trend that definitely caught my attention. In the early ‘80s I was a freelance commercial artist specializing in machines. There was a wonderful magazine for commercial and graphic artists back then titled, “Step-By-Step Graphics” that was truly awesome for aspiring artists. Each issue featured several articles that took you on a step-by-step overview of exactly how the artist created their works. It was a terrific magazine.
One issue had a feature story covering David Kimble’s unique approach to the classic “cut-away” style of technical illustration. I was already familiar with James A Allington’s cut-away illustrations from a series of Shell Oil print ads that ran in the late 60s featuring famous road racing cars, such as the Ford GT40, Jim Hall’s Chaparral, and others. But Kimble’s style was quite different and unique. Where as most cut-away technical illustrations show what’s under the car’s body by illustrating a section of the body that seemed to be snipped away, Kimble created a new dimension to the “cut-away” body sections. David’s illustrations looked as if most of the car’s painted body was transparent. Parts, such as tires, wheels, floorboards, dash panels, transmission cases, valve covers were either transparent or used the traditional “cut-away” technique. When you look at a Kimble technical illustration, you experience a journey of discovery. For us gearheads, Kimble’s art satisfies the the question, “What’s under there?” Continue reading
It’s too bad Chevy didn’t do this 50 years ago!
The very cool “Chevy Runs Deep” video featuring the C6.R Corvette racers is at the bottom of this post.
Wouldn’t it have been awesome if General Motors had told the AMA to “stuff it” back in 1957? Why should Ford and Chrysler get all the racing glory? Just before the GM enforced the 1957 AMA ban on racing, paperwork had been submitted to take Duntov’s Corvette SS race car to Le Mans. And what might have happened if Zora had been allowed to fully develop the ‘63 Grand Sport. Ah, the stuff of bench racing.
In the early years of the Corvette, Chevrolet and General Motors seemed to almost be shy about their involvement in Corvette racing. While the infamous 1957 AMA ban on corporate involvement in racing was for a very long time, their excuse for not being upfront about racing, there was PLENTY of back door parts and engineering “field testing” going on. Select individuals received special assistance that always kept things a little murky. Names such as Smokey Yunick, Roger Penske, Bill Jenkins, Jim Hall, John Greenwood, and others were often gifted with development parts (at no, or little charge) in exchange for feedback from the race track.
And for the regular customers, there were plenty of go-fast parts that were unofficially referred to as Duntov’s “racer kits.” Not that the parts came in a special box, like an AMT model kit, but they did give a wanna-be Corvette racer the benefit of solid Chevrolet engineered parts for their racing efforts.
Fortunately for every Corvette owner for the last several decades, many race developed parts slowly and subtly made their way into production Corvettes. The tide didn’t really turn in the corporate attitude towards racing until the mid-’80s when Chevrolet began to build specially prepared cars for the Corvette Challenge Series. Plus, there was a lot of help given to the C4 Corvette racers in the Showroom Stock Series. Then there was the GTP Lola/Corvettes and the Morrison Motorsports speed demon C4 ZR1 Corvette that shattered speed records. Continue reading
The old Corvette vs 911 Porsche rivalery heats up!
Motor Trend magazine has a neat new TV program titled, “Head 2 Head.” To kick off the series MTs Editor at Large, Angus MacKenzie pits the 2012 Grand Sport Corvette against a 2012 911 Carrera S. The program is a lot of fun to watch. There are vintage clips of both cars from 1963 when the rivalry first started with the arrival of the 911 taking on the new Corvette Sting Ray. Footage of the Sting Ray is from a Chevrolet promotional film featuring race car drivers Dave MacDonald and Dr. Dick Thompson wringing out the new ‘63 Vette at the Chevrolet test track in the Summer of ‘62.
Comparisons of the two cars has always been somewhat of a force fit. In the olden days, the Corvette had the upper hand in power, but the Porsche was smaller and lighter – more expensive too. Fast forward 48 years and now the 911 is a smidge larger than the Corvette and is only 211-pounds lighter than the Corvette. Continue reading
Is this the C6 to the max? We’ll see!
As I have written many times here, Chevrolet is really on a roll with the special edition Corvettes. I really like these Corvettes and the fact that they’re technically “parts bin” cars, doesn’t bother me in the least. The fact that none of the special edition Corvettes have any horsepower enhancements is irrelevant. It sure would be nice, but after all, Chevrolet isn’t a tuner company. And if 436-hp, or 505-hp, or 638-hp isn’t enough for you, you’re in luck! In the classic small-block Chevy tradition, Chevrolet engineers left plenty of red meat in all three Corvette engines that can be easily extracted without seriously altering the car.
When I wrote my Illustrated Corvette Series No. 177 column for VETTE in October ‘11 covering the 2012 Centennial Edition, there was zero talk about 2013 special editions. And frankly, I wasn’t anticipating the announcement of the 60th Anniversary Special Edition until the Spring. Then in early January, “BAM!” Chevrolet unleashed the 60th Anniversary Edition, plus the delicious 427 Convertible. While I personally like a little more sizzle, the two ‘13 special editions are indeed sweet. But it did complicate the main question of my column, “Is the 2012 Centennial Edition ZR1 the best of the C6 Vettes?” Continue reading
Chevrolet released two special additions for the final C6 production run. Nice, but a little tame.
Be sure to take our informal opinion poll at the bottom of this post.
Sometimes Chevrolet sneaks a zinger on us when we’re not expecting it. I wasn’t anticipating an advanced look at the 60th Anniversary Corvette until the Spring. But here we are, into the second week of January, and BAM! Chevy unleashes not one, but two special edition Corvettes to wrap up the production run of the C6 Corvette.
The two special editions are the 60th Anniversary Package and the 427 Convertible Collector Edition. Although both cars are essentially parts bin and graphics combos, both are very nice. Details are listed below. The anniversary Package is consistent with every previous Anniversary Corvette package – paint, creature comforts (except for the ‘78 25th Anniversary option), and badges. If you look back at the 25th, 35th, 40th, and 50th Anniversary edition Corvettes, they’re all very handsome cars, but special paint, trim, and options packages.
While a nice enough package, I was expecting more, especially since the Corvette’s 60th anniversary uniquely coincides with the final year for the C6. The complete 60th Anniversary package gets you Arctic White paint, Blue Diamond interior with suede leather trim, a ZR1 rear spoiler, gray painted brake calipers, and badging on the front and rear, wheel caps, instrument panels, and door sills. The car Chevrolet showed us was the 427 Convertible Special Edition WITH the 60th Anniversary package. The 60th Anniversary Package is available on all model Corvettes – the 427 Convertible included. Continue reading
It’s time to do your patriotic Corvette duty and CAST YOUR VOTE!
Your local Corvette polling place is at the bottom of this post
The other day we were talking about the Ron Fellows Spring Mountain Special Edition 2012 Z06 Corvette. After posting the story I was doing some followup reading and found one post that called the car “boring.” Really? What part? Are we becoming a wee bit jaded with Special Edition Corvettes because they aren’t something other than a coordinated package of performance parts? Me thinks so.
This is an aside, but I’ve been reading similar blather on the net about Corvettes in general. I call it “goofy sniping crap.” You know what I’m talking about, the endless complaining that the Corvette isn’t a Nissan or a Porsche, or a world car, or whatever. The car is either too big (it’s about the same size as a 911 Porsche), it’s too heavy (the Nissan GTR is almost 600 pounds MORE than a Z06), it’s too expensive for younger buyers (and the Porsche and Nissan is cheaper?), materials are low grade (they want cheap, expensive materials?), and on and on.
But the fact remains that; 1. We’re in a deep economic recession, and 2. Even the base model (costing sometimes less than $50,000 if you shop around) delivers more performance per dollar than any other “sports car” you can buy. PERIOD! Is the base Corvette the baddest boy on the block? No. But if that’s what you need to feel good, be prepared to pony up three times as much as a Corvette for a top level Porsche. No, modern Vettes are tight, well-engineered performance cars that can give an owner years of dependable automotive performance pleasure for as little as $50K. Sorry for the digression.
So what’s up with all the special edition Corvettes? They’re just that, “special.” perhaps the disconnect for some is how one defines “special.” Former Corvette engineer and race car driver gave a little bit of insight into what it takes for a major manufacturer like Chevrolet to build special editions. John was largely credited with coming up with the concept for the ‘96 Grand Sport. “Monday morning quarterbacking” is for many, a sport un-to-itself. “Well, it’s just this and that, and why didn’t they do this and such, and wouldn’t you think that they could have…” Heinricy revealed that clearing out the assembly line time and pulling all the parts needed to build 1,000 Grand Sports was a major pain in the butt. For a tuner shop, 1,000 of anything would be a big deal. But for a big manufacturer, small numbers of specialty cars is a big headache. Continue reading
Ron Fellows’ Very Special, Spring Mountain Special Edition
We’d like your opinion at the bottom of this post! Should Chevrolet offer this car as an additional Special Edition for 2012?
Ever since the arrival of the 2007 Ron Fellows Z06 Special Edition Corvette, Chevrolet has been on a roll with special editions. Including the Fellows ‘07 Z06, there have been nine special edition Corvettes since ‘07. The list includes:
* 2007 Ron Fellows Z06 Special Edition
* 2007 Indy 500 Pace Car Replica
* 2008 Indy 500 Replica
* 2008 427 Limited Edition Z06
* 2008 Hertz ZHZ Special Edition
* 2009 GT-1 Championship Special Edition
* 2009 Competition Sport Edition
* 2011 Carbon Edition Z06
* 2012 Centennial Edition Corvette
Now some would argue that having so many “special editions” devalues each car. But I like these cars and here’s why. Why not? I believe that Chevrolet seriously missed the boat by not getting on to this nitch market decades ago. What might a limited production, 1960 John Fitch Le Mans Special be worth today? Would a ‘67 L89 427/435 Indy 500 Pace Car Roadster get your attention? Or how about a ‘71 Greenwood Sebring Special? How about a Kim Baker Corvette Challenge Street Edition, or a ‘92 Snake Skinner LT1? Getting warm yet? You could have a lot of Corvette day dreaming fun with this notion. Continue reading